Security Insider October/ November 2017

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CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

COMBATING

CULTURAL DIFFERENCES WHILST DELIVERING TRAINING g

By Nick Karas, Managing Director, Dominance Guardian Services

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s security professionals, we are well aware of the importance of a holistic security strategy. Unfortunately, all too often safety and security is often neglected until an obvious gap occurs.This was encountered in 2016 whilst training security and hospitality staff from a casino and resort in Honiara, Solomon Islands. The Solomon Islands is a beautiful but impoverished island nation in the Pacific. The capital, Honiara has a population just shy of 85,000 and faces many challenges including low wages, high unemployment and work conditions of a low standard with respective issues in health and safety, government licensing etc. The Coral Sea Resort and Casino is a unique resort that is fast becoming the Solomon Islands’ first and only five-star hotel and casino. The design of the resort has focused around fulfilling a guest’s love for relaxation and entertainment, with an appreciation of the Pacific seaside. The venue embodies the spirit of the Solomon Islands.This provides an ideal opportunity to draw tourists within the Australasian region. The main challenge

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facing management was a lack of training for both the hospitality and security staff. The resort has a full security roster of locals and three senior officers to help run security operations. All the senior officers have backgrounds in either the military or police force, however these skills did not help them easily transfer into such a high-profile customer service role. As a result, there were several performance issues – ranging from inferior staff management to operations auditing, performance review and professionalism. For a venue seeking five-star status, these issues presented the owner with a major obstacle in the ability to attract new patrons and returning customers who are accustomed to the service levels provided at top end casinos, such as in Macau. Unfortunately for the resort, its five-star status lay firmly in the hands of several insufficiently trained security officers and hospitality staff. We were requested to develop a training program specifically for the resort’s senior guards. Management sent the senior guards to Melbourne for a week to upskill with our trainers and guards and bring back new skills and a better understanding of their

role requirements and transfer their experience to the rest of the security team. This request was easy in theory, however when you consider that the subjects are starting at such an untrained level and the culture of the region is not geared towards five-star customer service – suddenly the task seemed like a mammoth challenge. The cultural differences and challenges we faced during the training program reminded us how important it is to get to know your subjects and their reasoning for undergoing training. Without this understanding, there is a good chance you will end up offering solutions and skills outside the spectrum of application. As a result, the acquired skills may not be implemented as intended – a point worth remembering for us all as security professionals. To design a training program specific to the needs of the client, we spoke at length with the resort management about what their expectations were and what they believed the staff and their business would most benefit from. We researched the Solomon Islands and Honiara as well as the people, the city and their culture. We discovered there